Saturday, May 9, 2020
Solo for Sparrow (1962)
It starts with a clever robbery of a jeweller’s shop. The gang kidnaps an elderly female employee whose job it is to lock up at night. She and the owner are the only ones to have keys to both the front door and the safe. A good plan, if only the old lady hadn’t died on them. Now it’s a murder case.
It’s Inspector Sparrow’s case but maybe not for long. His superior, Superintendent Symington, intends to call in Scotland Yard. Sparrow decides to take some leave, although what he really intends to do is to break the case before the Yard can. Like most local detectives he’s somewhat resentful of the way Scotland Yard ends up getting all the glamour. This is a local crime, Sparrow knows the ground and he knows all the local villains. He can see no reason why he shouldn’t solve the case on his own.
It’s all part of a trap Sparrow intends to lay (he can lay the trap because he already has a fair idea of the identity of at least one of the gang members). Of course there’s always the possibility the gang will lay a trap for Sparrow. This is a pretty ruthless gang.
Glyn Houston plays Sparrow. Houston was one of those thoroughly reliable British actors who could play parts like this in their sleep. He does a fine job. Sparrow is a sympathetic character but he’s a bit of a chancer. Both his career and his love life are at a bit of a crossroads. His love life problem could be easily solved if friendly local barmaid Sue was given half a chance. She doesn’t even mind being dragged along when Sparrow is on the job - surely a perfect candidate to be a policeman’s wife.
Director Gordon Flemyng worked mostly in television. There’s nothing spectacular about the job he does here but he keeps the action moving along. Roger Marshall, who had a very distinguished career as a television writer, provided the very serviceable screenplay.
Solo for Sparrow is decent if routine entertainment. Not one of the better movies in this cycle but the strong cast is a definite bonus. If you’re going to buy the boxed set anyway (and you should) then it’s worth giving this one a spin if you don’t set your expectations too high.